Friday, June 28, 2013

A True Christian

"A true Christian is one who has not only peace of conscience, but war within."

~J.C. Ryle, Holiness

I'm a wee bit frustrated because I was *this* close to being finished with my blog post for Five Things Friday when somehow it all disappeared.  Sigh.  It's after 2am here, so I'm going to call it a night.  I am leaving for your reading pleasure a quote that I read recently and liked.  If you're unclear on what is means, drop me an email and I'll share my take on it.

In the meanwhile, I'm thankful that I have a computer (even if it doesn't always cooperate). I'm thankful for electricity.  I thankful for the can of peanuts by my bed.  I'm thankful for A/C in this hot climate.  I'm thankful for a very good day filled with friends.  I'm thankful for Pastor Dave's teaching on the 46th Psalm.  I'm thankful that my Lord is my refuge and my strength.  I'm thankful for Martin Luther's hymn.  I'm thankful for Carmen's presence in the body of Christ.  I'm thankful for old friends and for new friends.  I'm thankful that you take the time to read my blog.  I'm thankful for all of the amazing thinkers out there whose words have shaped my life thus far.  I am thankful for those who love me in spirit and truth.  I'm thankful for the conviction I feel in my heart.  I'm thankful that I am already forgiven for everything I have done and will do.  I'm thankful that there is nothing I can do that will make God love me more or love me less.  I'm thankful for Jesus Christ who lived the life I should have lived and died the death I should have died so that I might have fellowship with Him.  I am thankful for the Bible-- the most beautiful and spellbinding book I know.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

I Have Chosen You for One Another

“In friendship...we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years' difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another...the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting--any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends, "Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another." The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.

~C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Friday, June 21, 2013

Five Things I'm Thankful For Friday

This week I'm thankful for:

1. Praying Friends.  Thank you to my friends who remember me in their prayers.  And thank you to the mighty God who hears those prayers, prays on my behalf (Romans 8:26), and answers those prayers for my good and His glory.  God be praised!

2. Reminders of God's Faithfulness.  The biggest reminder I get is when people call me to remember.  They point me to scripture and answered prayers to remind me how good He is.  Moreover, I'm reminded of his faithfulness when I begin to count my blessings.  I have my parents and siblings, dear friends, a roof over my head, money in my pocket, food in my belly, brothers and sisters in Christ, an amazing Gospel-focused church, people praying and caring for me, a library of books to read, readers of my blog, internet connection and contact with the outside world, many gifts, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit... the list goes on and on.  He loves me and He is faithful.

3. TGIF.  Fridays are my favorite day of the week, and not for the reason you may suspect.  Here in the Middle East, the weekend is comprised of Friday and Saturday, with Friday being the holy day when religious services are held.  I eagerly look forward to Friday mornings when Redeemer Church of Dubai meets.  I love our time of worship as well as the sermon that is preached each week.  After church, sometimes as many as thirty of us go out to eat, and our day together turns into evening.  I'm thankful for my church and for this day when the saints convene.

4. INFPs.  If you're not familiar the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test don't know what I'm talking about, but basically it's one of sixteen personality types.  I happen to be one, and lately it seems God has been putting a lot of INFPs into my life, which is really fun, because we seem to click really well with each other.  I feel like we 'get' each other and we can talk for hours about many different things.

5. A Violin-playing Friend.  This week and last I was able to get together and play violin with another girl here in Dubai.  We seem to spend as much time talking as playing, but boy is it fun.  She's a professional violinist and a private teacher, which makes me feel majorly inferior, but she's humble and encouraging and sweet.  We played Bartok's Duos for Two Violins and Bach's Concerto for Two Violins.  It's wonderful-- classical music just thrills my soul to listen to and play.  I'm thankful for our burgeoning friendship and for a friend to play music with.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Say Cheese

Instagram shot from yesterday's shoot for Friday Magazine.  It comes out Friday, June 28th.

U Magazine

These are from a shoot I did last month in Amman, Jordan.  I'm sort of so-so about them, but thought I'd share them with you.  The hair, by the way, because you probably can't tell from the photos, was styled into fun 1940's-era victory rolls.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Things I'm Thankful For

I missed last week, so this week I'm giving you ten things I'm thankful for.

This week I'm thankful for:

1. A Violin and a Violin-playing Friend.  When I came to Dubai, I decided to leave my beloved violin behind.  After all, I was only coming for two months (which have now drawn into four), and I needed to use my carry on for a suitcase since after all two months is a long-ish time.  I was thankful when I spied a viola in the room that I'm renting, and I've enjoyed playing that, but it's not really 'my' instrument; I can't read the alto clef very well, and the size of the viola causes my elbow and shoulder to ache.  However, when I discovered my new friend, Danielle, was a (lapsed) professional violinist, the search was on for a violin.  Thankfully, through the magic of Facebook, I now have a violin in my possession, and the two of us plan on getting together this week to play duets. I'm SO excited.

2. Keren's Parents.  Keren is my awesome Panamanian friend, and this week her awesome Panamanian parents are in Dubai visiting.  On Friday after church a few of us went out to eat.  We got to hear Mama and Papa Williams tell their story of how they met (it was so sweet!) and afterwards Señor Williams, a pastor, asked if he could pray for each of the girls that we would find our husbands.  It was such a lovely prayer and I felt exceedingly blessed.

3. Words of Encouragement.  I also feel really blessed when people encourage me with scripture.  Last night my friend Krishan reminded me, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made," (Psalm 139:14) and today I received a lovely email from a new blog reader who says she's praying for me (thank you so much!) and gave me this verse to meditate on: "About Benjamin he said: "Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders."  I love both of these verses and they're great reminders of the truth.

4. The Circle of Life.  I find an odd comfort in life events.  I can't explain it, but as (my) life marches forward, and I have to say goodbye to those who are dear to me, marriages and births encourage me and remind me that life goes on and that there's more ahead.  They are the whispers of a promise-- a promise that one day I will be made new and shall partake in a magnificent wedding ceremony with the God that made me and knows me in my entirety.  Last weekend we surprised Danielle (my violinist friend) with a baby shower and this weekend we threw a bridal shower for Rachel.  It also feels pretty great to be able to bless these ladies with friendship and gifts as they enter into these new phases of life.

5. Discipleship.  For the past few weeks I've been meeting with a woman from my church here in Dubai to discuss how God is working in my life and to examine how God changes people from sinful self-lovers to humble image-bearers.  It's a great work, and a journey that I'm seemingly at the start of (although in truth I know he has been refining me for a long time already).  Leeann and the other godly men and women that God has placed in my life are part of that refining process, and I'm thankful for their admonition, accountability, and encouragement.

6. Work. I am thankful for work-- always thankful that God continues to bless me with work so that I'm not constantly worrying about how I will eat or live.  I realize that even if He didn't give me work that I should not worry because He promises to take care of me.  But, I am really really thankful that I'm working.

7. 1 Samuel.  This week at church we took a break from our series on the book of Ruth to hear a sermon on 1 Samuel 1.  (Our pastor was out of town this week, hence the break from Ruth).  Only a couple of days ago I was reading a blog by a woman who is going through infertility treatments and having a hard time conceiving.  She felt it was her duty to warn women of the dangers of waiting too long to have children.  Sigh.  I read that and even though I already know this stuff, it nigh gave me a panic attack.  There, you see, even when I don't have much to worry about, I find ways to waste my time worrying about things which I have no control over (which, come to think of it, is most things).  So, there on the verge of a meltdown over whether I'll ever get married and will ever have children, I remembered Hannah (and Sarah and Rachel and Leah and Mary...) and how God opened her womb and I remembered that with God anything is possible.  Of course, that doesn't mean He will give me a husband and children, but it does mean that if it's His will, it will happen and without my own striving and contriving.

8. My Emotional Health.  When I first arrived in Dubai in early March, I felt a bit like I'd been chewed up and spit out.  I was not in a good place emotionally.  A couple of days ago, I was home alone after a full day of being largely alone, and instead of feeling sad like I hitherto would have done, I noticed that I was content.  I did some Pilates, went for a swim, played my violin, and read.  It was lovely evening.  It then occurred to me how far I've come.  The following day a lady at church who had first met me the week I arrived commented that I'm a different person now than I was then.  She's not the first to have noticed a difference.  I am thankful that God heard my cries of distress and that he brought me here to this place of healing and recovery.

9. Unexpected Blessings and Gentle Reminders.  Last week I received my first paycheck and included in it was about $1000 from a job done in 2009.  Instead of being thankful, the first instinct of my hardened heart was to be annoyed and put out that these people have held onto my money all of these years without paying me and letting me know about it.  However, after telling the story to my friend, Romana, she gently chided me and reminded me that I should be thankful for this unexpected bounty.  She's absolutely right, of course.  I am thankful for the extra cash, and am even more thankful for her and her reminders to examine my sinful heart.  (She often challenges me, and in the moment, I get defensive and argumentative.  Afterwards though, when I reflect on what she's said, I can see that she's absolutely right and I count it as a blessing to have such a friend who is willing to speak hard truths to me.)

10. Self-discipline.  It's not something I usually have in great quantity, but lately I seem to be on a roll.  I think I've made up my bed every single day I've been here (which probably means I've made my bed here more times than I have in my entire life before this) and I've been really on top of the exercise thing.  It may seem little, but I feel pretty good about it.  I've read that self-discipline is like a muscle-- it can be strengthened, and used over time and can become fatigued and stop working until it recovers.  I'm not sure what's going on with me these days, but it does feel like my self-discipline has grown a little stronger, and for that I am thankful.

One more thing I'm thankful for-- Friends! Carmen, Keren, Rahel, Stacy, Lays, and me

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Blogilates for Beginners

I LOVE Cassey Ho and Blogilates-- she's an energetic pilates instructor who brings her knowledge to the YouTube community with her own YouTube channel.  I discovered her in 2011 when another model told me about her, and I've been hooked ever since.  She's perfect for me because I get to work out in the convenience of my home or in a hotel room when I am traveling, and it usually doesn't require any equipment (haha, last week I substituted wine bottles for dumbbells). 

I always tell people about her, so I thought I'd share this with you.  She's developed a calendar with all of her workouts for beginners-- which is a perfect intro to pilates.  The names of the workouts on the calendar are the names of the videos on YouTube, so you can just search for them, or you can go this link on her page and click on the day to go directly to the videos.